Head-turning

Revolutionary Road

By Richard Yates

The most enjoyable aspect of Revolutionary Road is its simplicity. I’m not only talking about its clean language and small cast of characters, but the essential plotline. The novel is about a young couple arguing about their future together. I can imagine that when it was written in the early sixties, this was a relatively new topic to cover in a novel. Yates’ achievement is that the book holds up today. The central theme is still relevant to any middle-class person in the developed world – in fact, for many it is a preoccupation.

Underpinning Yates’ claim at a kind of universality is his fine storytelling. The two protagonists, April and Frank Wheeler are both ordinary and extraordinary. That is their central dilemma and it is the heart of this novel. They make for fascinating characters – so fascinating are they that the reader wants to inhabit their suburban home along with them, even though neither of them are particularly attractive human beings. They are full of genuine flaws, which only makes them deeper, richer characters. Reading this book is a blessing – there’s not a thing wrong with it.

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